State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) recently introduced Senate bill S6570, which would require all new textbooks used in New York State to refer to the body of water that separates the Japanese archipelago from the Asian mainland as the East Sea as well as the Sea of Japan.
Korean advocates have long lobbied for the change, noting that the name is unjust because it was established in a 1929 publication of the “Limits of the Oceans and the Seas,” by the International Hydrographic Organization, released while Korea was under Japanese occupation. The Japanese government has stated that the name is valid because it is the standard term of reference used by foreign governments.
Stavisky asked the City Dept. of Education to begin using books that included both names in 2012, but the DOE did not respond to her request.
“It is often said that history is written by the victors. In this case, the widely known name for a body of water is a constant reminder for Koreans worldwide of an era of oppression, occupation and violence,” Stavisky said.
“Understanding the historical and political implications of this conflict and acknowledging the East Sea as well as the Sea of Japan is an important lesson for New York students as they learn to be conscientious global citizens.”
Braunstein noted that calling the body of water simply the Sea of Japan was unfair to the City’s Korean students.
“This bill would ensure that future generations of New Yorkers are accurately educated on this issue,” he said. “The bill will also take into account the sensitivities of Koreans regarding Japan’s actions during the Japanese Imperial Period.”